Industrial Marketing Blog

Industrial Content Marketing – Selling the Problem not Just Solutions

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Industrial content marketing for problem solvingManufacturers, distributors and engineering companies want to jump into industrial content marketing because they’ve read the buzz about its effectiveness in generating high quality leads for selling solutions. They want to educate the market about their solutions and in the process create “thought leadership.”

Those are all great and valid reasons for industrial companies to do content marketing. There is a problem however and that is the problem itself.

I see industrial marketers assume that their audience is aware of the problem and is actively seeking a solution, presumably theirs. Their entire content marketing strategy is based on that assumption. They write blog posts about their solutions and create content that is very solution-centric.

You ask, “What’s the problem then? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do with content marketing?”

Indulge me for a moment because I’m about to tell you something different.

Industrial content marketing for problem awareness

Back in 2011, I had written a post titled, “Problem-centric Industrial Marketing.” It was based on a concept that I first read about in a blog post by Seth Godin. He wrote, “No business buys a solution for a problem they don’t have.”

In other words, your industrial content marketing isn’t going to be very successful if it is all about selling a solution in search of a problem.

As contrarian as this may sound, industrial marketers ought to first focus on raising awareness of the problem before they can sell their solution.

You are not likely to move the needle on your lead generation if all you are doing is touting your solutions. Your industrial content marketing must also educate the market by raising awareness of problems and/or improving current ways of doing things.

That’s what I’m calling problem-centric industrial marketing.

Think about that for a moment if you are a manufacturer or an industrial services company; ask yourself this question, why would anyone buy your solution if they don’t know they have a problem? Are your buyers aware of the cost of doing nothing or maintaining their current status quo?

Solution selling is defined as “Solution selling is a sales methodology. Rather than just promoting an existing product, the salesperson focuses on the customer’s pain(s) and addresses the issue with his or her offerings (product and services). The resolution of the pain is what constitutes a solution.” (Wikipedia)

Solution selling or consultative selling has evolved over the years and there is some debate about whether or not it is still relevant or if it is dead but the core concept is still the same, you have to discover the problem before you can offer (sell) a solution.

Using content marketing to raise awareness of the problem(s) has become even more important today because industrial buyers are in self-serve and self-discovery mode for information. They don’t want to talk to your sales people in the early stages of their buying journey.

Seth summarized the problem nicely in his post by writing, “When a prospect comes to the table and says, ‘we have a problem,’ then you’re both on the same side of the table when it comes time to solve it. On the other hand, if they’re at the table because you’re persistent or charming, the only problem they have is, ‘how do I get out of here.’”

One of the comments from my original post was by Tom “Bald Dog” Varjan, a former electronics/computer engineer and a B2B business development strategist. He wrote, “So, when we present problems and long-term consequences of ignoring the problem, we can have the market’s attention.”

What are your thoughts on using industrial content marketing to raise awareness of the real problems your customers are facing before selling solutions?

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. This is precisely it. Coincidentally you articulate the approach for offering solutions for a B2B marketing agency. All too often we approach our clients offering these amazing solutions and they fail to grasp that they have a problem – it is not enough to speak of ‘increased sales’ and ‘better web presence’, to a lot of people involved in running their business the idea that they can really attain these things is like being asked to view a unicorn – very nice, but really?

    • Michael,

      Thanks for adding your insights.
      Also received your email and will reply shortly.

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